MATCH PREVIEW: Westley expecting tough battle for Stevenage at Oxford
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage boss Graham Westley is relishing locking horns with old foes Oxford United on Saturday.
The encounters between the two teams are always a well-contested, and often fiery affair, and Westley is hoping it will be his troops who return to the Lamex with three points on board.
However, he is taking nothing for granted against a side who picked up their first win last Tuesday with a 3-1 triumph against Accrington Stanley.
“I always take things where they are at right now, and the other night they had a good home victory,” Westley told the Comet.
“They’ve [Oxford] made a couple of additions to their squad, they’ve brought in some experience and some quality, and sometimes just a player or two can make a world of difference to a team.
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“Sometimes if you’ve got one or two who are struggling to get to the level and then you replace them with one or two who are good at the level, it can make a world of difference.
“At all levels of football if you get one or two differences to a team, that team can be different. We have to go into the game recognising that they had a good home victory the other night, recognising that we are going to have to do a lot right if we are going to get a point or three, come away with a point or unbeaten, we are going to have to do a lot of things right to get a result.”
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A tantalising battle between the two sides came during Stevenage’s Conference-title winning season of 2009/10 where the Us pushed them all the way.
And it’s experiences like this that leave Westley in no doubt that tomorrow’s League 2 clash will be a tough battle.
“When you go head to head with a club for a league title, I guess there’s going to be the rough and smooth between the two clubs,” he added.
“We both fought hard for that Conference title and it wasn’t easy getting there; we got there with a bloody nose, with scars on our face it took an effort for us to get there, and they fought hard to get there.
“We know that they’re a good football club with a rich history, and a football club like that, whoever’s in charge as an owner, whoever’s in charge as an manager, a club like that with a supporter base as strong and passionate as that is never going to be an easy proposition.
“I would never underestimate a football club like Oxford United; we’ve been there before, we’ve had the battle we came out victorious, but as I said, it was a very tough battle to win.”
Oxford United will be without the services of long-term injury absentees keeper Ryan Clarke, midfielder Andy Whing and striker Will Hoskins.
Seven-goal Danny Hylton and the experienced Brian Howard are expected to shake off knocks suffered in the victory against Accrington.
For Boro, Andy Bond and Ryan Johnson are suspended, while Calvin Zola, Dean Parrett, Jeromoe Okimo, Simon Walton and Harry Worley are all expected to miss out through injury.
Follow @stevenageborofc on Twitter for live updates from the game, and see the website for match report and reaction.